Kobe Bryant Almost Starred In "He Got Game"
One of the greatest basketball players of all-time was nearly the star of one of the greatest basketball movies of all-time, as Kobe Bryant reveals he passed on "He Got Game."
Originally, the movie was based on the exploits of Coney Island's Finest, Stephon Marbury, and Spike Lee had asked him to play the lead role of Jesus Shuttlesworth. a few actors tried out for the part as well, but Lee was determined to have a real-life basketball star. Eventually it came down to Ray Allen, and Travis Best (who went on to play Allen's teammate), and we all know Ray "became" Jesus.
In an interview for his cover story with Sports Illustrated, Kobe talks about coming up short in the Playoffs during his rookie campaign. He air-balled several threes in the waning moments of the Lakers last game against the Jazz, which would see them eliminated. Realizing he needed to put more work in the gym to condition his body for the rigors of an NBA season, a young Brant was re-dedicated to the game. So much so that when Spike Lee approached him to play Jesus Shuttlesworth, Bean passed.
That summer Spike Lee begins filming He Got Game, a movie with Denzel Washington about a basketball prodigy named Jesus Shuttlesworth. “I want you to be part of it,” Lee tells Bryant. “Thank you but no thank you,” Bryant says. “This summer is too big for me.” Ray Allen lands the role as Shuttlesworth.